Ripe and tasty and juicy peaches are a great way to boost your health. (For Spectrum Health Beat)

Want a sweet treat that is good for you?

Pick a peach.

The sunny stone fruit that ripens in West Michigan orchards every summer delivers a host of health benefits, along with tasty flavor.

“I love peaches,” said Jill Traxler, a registered dietitian at Spectrum Health Blodgett Hospital. “They are one of my favorite fruits, especially when perfectly ripe and juicy.”

Peaches fit into any meal—they make a great addition to a smoothie, salsa, oatmeal or salad. You can grill or roast them, and you can cook them in a pie, tart or cobbler.

Eat them raw for a sweet and convenient snack.

“They are easy because you don’t have to put them in a container. They are grab and go,” Traxler said.

Five top health reasons to reach for a peach:

1. An A+ vitamin

Peaches are high in vitamin A and beta-carotene, which converts to vitamin A in the body.

This powerful vitamin has been to shown to:

  • Help with night vision.
  • Keep our skin and mucus membranes healthy.
  • Prevent lung and oral cancers.

2. Fantastic fiber

A medium peach provides 2 grams of fiber. This carbohydrate is not digested in our bodies, but it plays an important role in many body functions.

The fiber in a peach helps:

  • Regulate bowel movements.
  • Keep cholesterol levels low.
  • Regulate blood sugar so spikes in glucose are less common than if you ate a candy bar—or other low-fiber sweet treat.

“These effects make it so peaches can reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, diverticular disease and constipation,” Traxler said.

3. High C

The vitamin C in peaches makes us stronger. It helps build cartilage, muscle and collagen in bones.

It has healing properties and helps us resist infections.

Vitamin C also is a powerful antioxidant that provides protection against free radicals and reduces inflammation. It has been shown to protect against heart disease and cancer.

4. Weight control

Sweet but low in calories, peaches help us keep a healthy weight.

A medium peach has 50 calories, 0.5 grams of fat, 2 grams of fiber and 15 grams of carbohydrate.

“The fiber keeps you full, and the water in a sweet, juicy peach can help to maintain fullness, as well,” Traxler said.

5. Part of a balanced diet

According to USDA recommendations, a 2,000-calorie diet should include at least  2 ½ cups of vegetables and 2 cups of fruit a day.

“Each meal should be balanced with a protein, starch, fruit and vegetable,” Traxler said. “Each time you eat fruit like a peach, you increase your fiber, antioxidants and vitamins and minerals.

“They are low-calorie, a good source of energy and deliciously sweet.”